Division of Student Affairs considering ban of e-cigarettes

Article Originally Published by Brooke Colombo on North Texas Daily

Article Originally Published by on North Texas Daily

The Division of Student Affairs is considering a proposal that would change the university’s policy on electronic cigarettes by banning on-campus e-cigarette use rather than restricting it, Elizabeth With, vice president for Student Affairs, said.

The university’s current policy, which became effective in 2013, prohibits smoking with a pipe, cigarette, cigar or any other smoking paraphernalia filled with tobacco for anyone on campus premises. The use of e-cigarettes, also known as vaping, is permitted on campus premises but must be outdoors in spaces at least 25 feet from facility entrances.

“At the time, there was no research to say that there was anything negative with the secondhand smoke from e-cigarettes,” With said. “[The committee] met for several months and they came up with the policy and it hasn’t been changed since then.”

The university is revisiting the policy to decide whether it should prohibit e-cigarette use in a similar manner as smoking.

“The university had a meeting a week or so ago as to whether or not, based upon everything that’s coming through the media, we need to modify the policy,” With said.

While researchers are still working to determine the extent to which e-cigarettes present a health hazard, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have published findings that link vaping to neurological problems and warn of the addictive quality of nicotine found in 99% of e-cigarette sold in assessed venues in the U.S.

“The brain keeps developing until about age 25,” a CDC report said. “Nicotine can harm the developing adolescent brain. Using nicotine in adolescence can harm the parts of the brain that control attention, learning, mood, and impulse control.”

The same CDC report also found that while it is “not clear how much of inhaled e-cigarette aerosol is exhaled into the environment where nonusers can be exposed,” e-cigarette aerosol emissions could contain “nicotine, carbonyl compounds, VOCs, polyaromatic hydrocarbons, TSNAs, heavy metals, and glycols,” that, depending on the emission’s concentration and the extent of exposure, could pose secondhand risks to nonusers.

Biology sophomore Drake Blau said he did not think the creation of a policy prohibiting e-cigarette use would make a difference.

“A vaping ban isn’t going to actually do [anything] to stop people from vaping on campus,” Blau said. “Cops don’t [care] – that’s for sure – and most people are just slightly irritated by smells, but not much more. But I kind of feel like UNT has to at least have an official rule that bans it for PR reasons.”

Digital retailing and fashion merchandising senior Brooke Freeman said she has found that most people do not follow the limitations of the current policy.

“I vape and I may be in the minority,” Freeman said. “But I always make sure I’m the proper distance away from entrances and exits to buildings and never do it when it will be in anyone’s face.”

Freeman also said she thinks limiting, rather than prohibiting e-cigarette use, would be most effective if it was enforced differently, and suggested alternative solutions.

“If the campus police actually enforced the ban of cigarettes and “limits” on vaping, it would work out better for everyone,” Freeman said. “However, there will always be people who break the rules and are inconsiderate. I also think if there were designated areas where smoking [or] vaping were allowed, it would lead to less overall ignorance of the regulations.”

As for how the current policy and any potential changes to it can be enforced, With said it is up to the community as a whole to ensure others follow the policy.

“Police can’t [enforce it] because it’s not a law and they don’t need to be enforcing policies that aren’t laws,” With said. “It really is the responsibility of all the campus community to enforce it. If they see it, they need to say something to somebody. If somebody violates the policy multiple times, then students can be reported to the Dean of Students Office and faculty and staff can be reported to Human Resources.”

With also said that before a new policy is implemented, the university will launch an educational campaign to better make a well-informed decision.

“We need to do some research into it,” With said. “But I think once we do it then we would obviously have to go back out with another educational campaign to see what our campus community believes we should do.”

Featured Illustration: Jeselle Farias

Source: North Texas Daily